During National Black Business Month in August, the notable rise of Black-owned businesses in Detroit stands out prominently.
The month, dedicated to recognizing and supporting Black entrepreneurs, finds special resonance in Detroit’s recent history. The city, having faced significant economic challenges, has shown remarkable resilience, with Black entrepreneurs emerging as critical drivers of economic revitalization. The very ethos of National Black Business Month is reflected in Detroit’s streets, where Black-owned establishments, ranging from tech startups to traditional storefronts, highlight the dynamic business landscape and the invaluable contributions of the Black community.
Contributions from businesses such as Bleu Bowtique, a Midtown boutique that has unique twist on men accessories highlighting the intricate craft of bowties. As the fashion scene in Detroit heats up, so does Ne’Gyle Beaman, the owner of the 2013-established business Bleu Bowtique. Beaman has set out to be an example for generations of up-and-coming entrepreneurs to follow.
“I want to be able to set that example for small kids to see us and for people to follow their dreams,” Beaman said. “Just to see that other Black people can do these things, to showcase our talents, our gifts, and to see us as businessmen more than what you would just see on tv or social media – there’s all types of entrepreneurs and we have the opportunity to showcase it, so I want to continue to thrive and build more for our Black community.”
Nationally, the spirit of National Black Business Month is palpable beyond Detroit. Across America, there’s been a surge in Black entrepreneurship – a testament to the increasing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the business realm.
As cities and states actively cultivate a supportive ecosystem through grants, mentorships, and tailored resources, Black-owned businesses are not just surviving but thriving. This month, dedicated to acknowledging these businesses, reminds us of the imperative of an equitable business landscape. It underscores that the true strength of a nation’s economy lies in its diversity and the unique perspectives and innovations that arise from it. As initiatives like Chase’s free program for minority small business owners to get one-on-one coaching gain momentum, they reflect a wider national sentiment: one that celebrates and champions Black businesses not just for a month, but as an integral part of our nation’s economic fabric.
At the center of this narrative, the Chase for Business initiative emerges as a guiding star for the city’s Black entrepreneurs. Simply put, if you’re unsure about what to do next, know that there’s funding available. Keep searching and exploring every opportunity to find this financial support. Chase shows that it’s possible to tackle economic challenges.
Chase for Business rolled out its program back in 2020. A segment of their ambitious $30 billion “Path toward Commitment,” this initiative sought to illuminate the path of entrepreneurs navigating the shadows of historically underserved neighborhoods. It was not just about financial aid, but about fostering relationships, nurturing aspirations, and understanding the fabric of dreams intricately woven by minority business owners.
“Helping close the racial wealth gap and advance economic inclusion among Black, Hispanic and Latino businesses underserved in this country is at the heart of what we do,” said Jeff Childs, Detroit senior business consultant for minority businesses at JPMorgan Chase. “Whether it is access to capital, cash flow, collateral or credit questions, I work side by side with these business owners to ensure they have what they need to succeed and scale their business.”
In Detroit, the rise of Black-owned businesses is a part of a broader trend toward empowerment and economic revitalization. Various city-led initiatives, grants, and community support programs have played a pivotal role in this growth. These combined efforts have helped in nurturing an environment where Black entrepreneurs can thrive and contribute significantly to the local economy.
Bleu Bowtique stems from Beaman’s love of fashion since childhood, as he mentioned that he was the only one who wore a cummerbund and bowtie to his fifth-grade graduation, “So, that’s always been instilled in me and is still here.”
The story behind the naming of this boutique came to Beaman as many successes do: accidentally.
“We were looking through names for bowtie companies but everything we looked up was actually for girls, everything was pink. I thought, well if pink is for girls, then blue is for boys. But I was explaining the concept to my son during our family meeting about the business and he said, ‘you mean like a bowtique’ and we all laughed but then we were like wait a minute – bowtique and bowties is a play on words, so that’s how we created Bleu Bowtique.”
Beaman has been on this entrepreneurial path since 2013 as he first began selling bowties from the back of his truck, trade shows, and pop-up shops. It wasn’t until 2018 that he discovered that he was a talented seamstress and that he could sew. Beaman went on to handcraft and design his own collection of bowties after a bad deal happened that made him realize that he too can create his own.
“I’m self-taught. I’ve never had a sewing machine or touched one. I mean I’m from Brightmoor so I couldn’t walk around my neighborhood with a sewing machine,” Beaman jokingly explained. “I literally had a company in New York to make bowties for me and they were trash. I called them to complain, and they said they’d get it right next time and I said it won’t be a next time. So, I went to Costco and bought a sewing machine. I stayed up all night trying to recreate what I learned while I was taking apart an old bowtie. It took hours and hours, but I figured it out and that was the spark.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, Detroit has witnessed a resilient resurgence in small businesses, particularly within the Black community. Facing unprecedented challenges, these entrepreneurs have leveraged creativity and innovation to adapt to the new economic landscape. Programs aimed at supporting minority-owned businesses, combined with a strong local commitment to shopping locally, have played an essential role in this revival. In fact, Black-owned businesses in Detroit have seen an appreciable increase in both startup numbers and overall growth. This progress underscores the city’s broader economic recovery, reflecting the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of Detroit’s Black community. JP Morgan Chase initiative builds on this momentum, offering an opportunity to further accelerate growth and affirm the essential role of Black-owned businesses in Detroit’s economic landscape.
For Beaman, now, it’s time to expand. He says that Bleu Bowtique is certainly looking to reach the masses beyond the city.
“I’m definitely looking to expand, and not just here in the city, but throughout Michigan as well as other states. So just keep an eye out for us because I am looking to do more,” said Beaman.
Nationwide, the growth of Black-owned businesses mirrors a similar trajectory. Several states and cities have launched initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion within the business landscape. With increasing access to capital, mentorship, and resources tailored to the specific needs of Black entrepreneurs, there has been a tangible increase in the number of successful Black-owned businesses across the country.